The Color of Light


If you were to paint a picture of the sun, what color would you choose? 

Color in Real Estate Photography

If you chose yellow, you’re not alone.  When we think of light we often associate it with the color yellow.  In photography however, understanding that light exists as a spectrum of colors is vitally important.  To a camera, sunlight is actually registered as blue light, which derives from its Kelvin temperature.  In fact, the color behind every photograph is based on one thing: the Kelvin temperature of the light source.  When the camera’s white balance and the light source match, only then will the photograph have accurate color.

White balance is the process of telling your camera what white is.  Once the camera knows what white is, then the whole light spectrum can be more accurately calculated.  All digital cameras have a white balance setting, and most never budge from AWB or Auto White Balance (which automatically chooses a Kelvin temperature for you).  However, if Auto White Balance was a perfect system, then one might argue that there would be no reason to have all of those other mysterious options. 

In the provided image we can see how the most common sources of light vary in their Kelvin temperatures.  The associated symbols for these light sources will vary slightly between camera brands, but should be inherently obvious in regards to their meaning.  If unsure, consult your camera manual.

Photography Color Table

For those in the real estate biz, spending time shooting photos for the purpose of online marketing, listing brochures, newspaper ads, and other various postings is an expected duty.  As more and more people are going online to shop for real estate, one thing can be said for certain:  Buyers love photos.  Yes, physically viewing a house is better, but browsing photos almost always comes first. 

Unbeknownst to them, real estate agents are expected to shoot in the most complex lighting environment possible – the average residential home.  Most rooms receive light from interior sources (i.e. light bulbs – similar to tungsten or fluorescent), and from exterior sources (i.e. the sun shining through an open window).  Add a few lamps, dark corners, and confined spaces and voila! – Instant real estate photography situation.

Stay tuned for some useful lighting tips, tricks, and techniques that will assist you when shooting your listing photos.

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